# Mathematics Weblog

## No it doesn’t need a maths degree!

Wednesday 4 October 2006 at 1:58 pm | In Articles | 1 CommentThis sort of thing rather winds me up. In an article titled “Energy switch needs a maths degree” the Guardian consumer column tries to make out that energy bills are impossible to check. It then, in a very objectionable manner, tells you how to do so. All it involves is simple arithmetic, which I would hope any GCSE student would be capable of. Why does the Guardian have to keep promoting the idea that arithmetic that uses a calculator is far too difficult for anyone without a maths degree? Perhaps they need maths teaching because they get the calculation wrong!

Here is an edited version of the article:

*…you need a degree in mathematics to be able to compare the different providers accurately…*

Those who have not yet lost consciousness and are eager to make their own calculations read on (this is not for the faint-hearted). Subtract the previous meter reading from the present figure. If you have an imperial meter (normally four digits) then multiply the figure by 2.83 to convert to metric. Multiply the result by 1.02264 to work out the temperature and pressure volume correction (don’t ask!). The bill will show a calorific value figure so multiply your figure by this number and if your maths is any good you should be left with 39 or 40. Divide by 3.6 to calculate how many units have been used, then multiply the units by the tariff price.

Those who have not yet lost consciousness and are eager to make their own calculations read on (this is not for the faint-hearted). Subtract the previous meter reading from the present figure. If you have an imperial meter (normally four digits) then multiply the figure by 2.83 to convert to metric. Multiply the result by 1.02264 to work out the temperature and pressure volume correction (don’t ask!). The bill will show a calorific value figure so multiply your figure by this number and if your maths is any good you should be left with 39 or 40. Divide by 3.6 to calculate how many units have been used, then multiply the units by the tariff price.

*Add standing charge if applicable and 5% VAT, stir well and bake at gas mark 6. Alternatively, pour a gin and do something more interesting with your life.*

What is it about our culture that so denigrates mathematics?

Here is the email I wrote to the Guardian’s consumer column. We’ll see if they take any notice.

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The last line in the email is the absolute best.

Comment by Benny Avelin — Wednesday 4 October 2006 3:28 pm #